Archive for June, 2013

Other Ten Percent 6/28/13

Jun 28 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Once again I’m kinda burnt out from writing fiction. I’ve written two scripts in two weeks and I’m kinda trying to continue at that pace. The result however is that I’m REALLY enjoying these relaxing M/W/F entries. Results may vary slightly next week when Google Reader’s shut off and I try and replicate this as exactly as possible using Feedly. It may take a few days but I FEEL GOOD about how things are going.

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Other Ten Percent 6/27/13

Jun 27 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Jesus. Guys. I swear at 2000 words this is me editing this stuff down. Maybe Jane and I just need to learn to talk less? Maybe just I need to do that? Maybe I need to figure out some way to just do this shit as bullet points? I dunno. We’re still going to be experimenting with the form here for a while though clearly.
David —
I totally agree that Kanye, like Daft Punk, is operating on a level that’s really fucking with critics and making them say some weird stuff about “objective quality” but I do think those objections on the Kanye end are subtly and interestingly different than the stuff Daft Punk got. Daft Punk just committed HARD to a unified artistic vision and pulled it off with such an obvious degree of mastery that even people that viscerally HATED their vision kinda had to cop to the album being good anyway which resulted in the weird “can awful things be good? What is happening?” Think pieces by critics that couldn’t conceive of good music outside of their anointed genres. Kanye meanwhile is operating on a couple of different levels at once and those levels are not working in concert AT ALL. The production and the lyrics on this album are NOT BROS. The subtext and the text would probably try to kill each other if you brought them to life. And on some level that’s gotta be intentional right? Like this is an album that loves dissonance so much it’s inventing new ways to subdivide music so it can create dissonance between those elements.
But sometimes it also feels like it isn’t entirely intentional maybe? Like that’s why I find the Hairpin article on the album really interesting. It zeros in on the same weird disconnects on the album and while I’m kinda with the Hairpin in thinking that at least some of those disconnects have to qualify as mistakes I’m wondering if you actually feel the same way or not.
I’m not sure I’m totally ready to agree the lyrics on this album are lazy and certainly Kanye’s done lyrics like this before but it does feel like he’s decoupling the production from the lyrics in a way that’s pretty new for him and it’s got some mixed results. Sometimes the two bounce off each other and amplify some core message in between and sometimes they don’t at all. And then sometimes you get a Blood on the Leaves where it amplifies some really disturbing shit that Kanye usually gets away with.
And I think that’s where most of the “this is simultaneously great and awful” stuff is coming from. Usually Kanye is yelling one unified message using every trick he’s got but this time he’s yelling one thing and whispering another and nobody can quite decode what’s going on.
Case in point, that one part of the Stereogum review where I TOTALLY AGREE the guy is misreading the soul samples. This isn’t a comforting return to the familiar it’s a megaphone screaming at you that even the familiar isn’t safe anymore. When I was like 7 I had this nightmare that I found a ring that I couldn’t take off and it revealed that everyone on earth but me was secretly a monster that was trying to kill me. I ran away from all my now monstrous friends and returned home just as my parents car was pulling up the driveway and I ran to them for help and the window rolled down and they were monsters too. That’s what the end of New Slaves feels like to me sonically. Even your place of comfort is now monstrous.
I think we’re pretty much on the same page about the general quality of the lyrics on this album but I’m fascinated by the idea that it works better than his attempts at effortlessness on, say, Graduation because for the first time Kanye isn’t just performing not giving a fuck he ACTUALLY doesn’t give a fuck and that’s probably as terrifying as any message you could get out of this album.
It also makes me want to disagree with you on hoping Daft Punk talks him out of touring though. It’s helped me realize that I absolutely don’t want to pay for tickets to the tour but I sure as hell want to see him do it and hear about it because I think a Kanye West that genuinely had no interest in entertaining his audience could potentially put on one of the most interesting tours in history.
So I’m coming to the end of this and I’m trying to figure out what my remaining questions here are besides the ones I’ve explicitly asked. Of course I really do want to try and get into the sexism here because I think the fact that it’s actually stirred up some actual discussion of the topic is really fascinating. Did you read Pitchfork’s Action Bronson review? They basically come out and say “man, he would have gotten away with all this rampant sexism even two weeks ago but Christ you guys…Yeezus. So maybe mention hookers a little bit less from now on you guys? My heart hurts.” Which like, GOOD, but also let’s maybe talk a little about why we’re talking about this now so we can figure out what Kanye’s doing that makes this feel so much worse than the 1000 sexist lyrics on other rap albums this year.
Jane —

So just read the Hairpin piece and Action Bronson review, and here’s some last stuff.

At some point in the Hairpin piece Emma Carmichael asks the question, “ Does this album love anyone?” and then doubles back on it a bit. But I think it’s a question worth asking and to attempt at answering it, no, I really don’t think this album loves anyone. Kanye’s maybe more misanthropic here than we’ve ever seen him and the whole enterprise is startlingly joyless in a lot of ways, one of which led that Vulture reviewer toward the conclusion that it’s the least sexy album of the year. Thinking about a piece of art crafted with joylessness that’s also full of ostensibly sexytimes regalia reminds me of two things: 1) The thing Kevin Canty, my writing professor at Montana and also lots of writers before him would always say, that you can experiment all you want with form and craft things that are demanding and difficult or even despicable for your reader, but in order to ultimately make it work for him/her you have to string together and intersperse throughout a few moments of pure joy… A look at your protagonist doing something he/she loves and/or is great at here, a rhapsodic description of the food or scenery there, a few memorable passages that perhaps you saw very clearly, that perhaps were really fun to write, and that are, quite simply, enjoyable to read. 2) The part of The Big Lebowski where Maude briefly describes sex addicts. Without looking up the script to quote it exactly she says something along the lines of, “They cannot love in the true sense of the word. They engage in sex compulsively and without joy.” And again, I don’t want to just diagnose Kanye as having this or that problem and call it a day, or anything, but on some level this album does seem to be about dropping that joy somewhere and not being able to find it again, and ALSO, being unwilling to just give his audience the joy we’re expecting to encounter either. Why should WE get that joy? What have we done to get it? He’s fucking Kanye West! He says he’s “a god” and as far as the production goes, he shows us a little of how he’s arrived at that conclusion, but of course the more he says it and the more he TELLS us the less it actually means and the more we get back to just how angry/resentful/maniacal he is in the first place that he would feel the need to scream this lyrically artless line of utter hubris.
And like, whether that’s all happening intentionally or not, whether or not this is some kind of metacommentary on exactly what’s wrong and weird and ugly about mainstream rap, whether or not the shift between “New Slaves” and “Hold My Liquor” from the universal angry braggadocio territory to the more personal cry for help territory means we should take the first four songs with a grain of salt, I don’t think one can call any of what’s happening uninteresting, and it sort of bugs me that the Hairpin piece dwells so much on the idea that it is or even might be. Sure, lyrically it’s very well-worn territory he’s treading here, but it feels like he’s clinging to this “tired” subject matter with all he’s got and committing to building this crazy ass sonic structure around it that we haven’t really seen a rapper do before, and that’s crazy and sad and lonely and don’t we want to think a little more about that?
“Is this what Gods do when they’re sad?” I mean, maybe, sure! It’s a completely bizarre question, and can you really think of anyone else who makes you ask it or phrase it exactly that way?
Just in general, I really don’t like the tendency to call entire ideas boring as if they have no situational context. Though the lyrical complaints are unavoidable, I feel like it’s lazy on our end to declare that this is somehow less “honest” than his other work, shake our heads at him and say Kanye, we’re very disappointed in you. And I sort of wish they’d cut about half of that whole conversation until we get to Kiese’s “But the problem is that it’s not boring to us. It’s not boring to straight men and it appears not to be boring to straight women. So actually, maybe this boring-ass shit Kanye just dropped says more about us and sex and race and porn and growing up sad and sensitive than it does about him.”
Because that’s just it. Maybe I’m ok with this album and what’s lazy about it because I DO see it as one tough, ugly commentary on what’s tough and ugly about rap as we know it, and how fucking frustrating it must be to be as self-aware as Kanye’s always seemed yet still somehow unable to avoid the well-worn, tired, mainstream obsessions on display here. He knows Spike Lee’s going to hate him, but let him finish. And we always do.
After taking a break from it for a few days, I listened to the album again on the way home from work and aside from the fact that it’s just so damn propulsive and invigorating when you forget these concerns for a second, a couple of things struck me that I either dismissed or didn’t pay attention to initially. One I should probably think about more before I go into it (but it involves some of the gross sex imagery), but the other is just the end of the first track where he just keeps repeating “I need… right now.” He doesn’t specify any particular thing, just that the need is immediate. Maybe it’s dumb to latch onto that, but it’s little moments like that when I think that yeah, he probably is aware of what he’s doing here, yes, it’s willfully inarticulate in a way that serves a whole we can’t be comfortable with but that is of a piece, is saying something pretty big, and is something we’re probably going to come back to later, for better or worse. And shit, even if he’s really NOT aware of it, it’s still happening. The questions are getting asked, the conversations are starting, and as an aesthetic object Yeezus is still working on a level that an album like this didn’t have to work, even if it’s failing in ways Kanye’s succeeded before.

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Other Ten Percent 6/26/13

Jun 26 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Okay so I’m not writing up full OTPs for these M/W/F entries but I am going to start poking in comments on a few of these I find especially interesting. Bascially if I have a context outside of “oooh this is neat, look at this” I’ll be sure to let you know. I’m also going to try to edit those Tuesday/Thursday entries down a little since just half of the conversation with Jane and I was 3000 words.
3000 words. Jesus. Sorry guys. Continue Reading »

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Other Ten Percent 6/25/13

Jun 25 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

So, like the M/W/F entries the format for this is EVOLVING which means “I am editing together 5 different e-mails between Jane and I at 10:30 at night so if this sucks then SORRY.” So, for instance, this one is super duper long and so I’m splitting it into two parts with the second round of e-mails on Thursday though maybe I should just edit all these down to a respectable length? In the future we’ll probably settle into a nice groove with these “letters back and forth” OTP entries but for now I’m just trying to make them Comprehensible. Continue Reading »

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Other Ten Percent 6/24/13

Jun 24 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

Yeah IFTTT and I are not getting along today. It’s being an asshole about hooking up to the Google Reader alternative I plan to use it with and then when I try and import some of the content of the blog posts I import from my RSS reader so the entries don’t seem so limited they end up having this bullshit inconsistent formatting that pretty much drives me crazier than just writing about each and every thing on here. I guess what I’m saying is that these mostly automated posts look like they’ll still be a work in progress for a week or two here.

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Other Ten Percent 6/21/13

Jun 21 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

So we’re trying a new new thing. It’s kind of what I was describing last time and just giving up and doing what I’ve always done AT THE SAME TIME. In fact, that’s exactly what it is. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I’m going to automate a traditional Other Ten Percent that’s a lot lighter on the commentary. In fact it’ll just be a fairly quick little note up here that maybe describes a through-line to this stuff as best as I can find it. The format of the individual entries will probably shift slightly as I use IFTTT with a different RSS reader and have it send stuff to Twitter at 30 minute intervals but todays is just the way it spits stuff out of Google Reader so it’s just the title, the link and the time of posting. “David, that is not enough commentary! I want to know what you think about the world because I am one of those 35 die-hard people that actually care about that!” Okay I get it hypothetical voice of my audience that sounds like nobody in my audience. CALM DOWN. M/W/F is going to be commentary light but that’s because on Tuesdays and Thursdays I plan or posting bits of correspondance with members of YOU my incredibly small audience, about various topics of interest to OTP readers. So far I’ve got some promising conversations going about both Kanye West’s new album and Shakespeare so…that’s this blog in microcosm. Anyway, you can look forward to those next week. For now, here’s a bunch of links with no context.

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Other Ten Percent 6/19/13

Jun 19 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

So Leigh Alexander, who, you’ll recall, is probably my favorite games journalist on Earth, wrote a piece that I ended up really disagreeing with for the new Inquiry on legitimacy versus accessibility in games. She starts off articulating much better than I could something that’s been bugging me about gaming culture for years: the way it simultaneously craves acceptance from outside the community but violently rejects even basic critiques of the culture. If you don’t like something about games you’re just another one of “those people” that’s too stupid to understand gaming, by the way why don’t more people like us?

So far so good. But then the article takes this weird left turn in discussing the way gamers reject arguments against sexist or violent themes because games are “supposed to be fun.”

Instead of pointing out that a lot of the things those developers want “for fun” aren’t actually that fun to anybody outside of their myopic view of what their audience should be Leigh Alexander seems to be suggesting we just abandon fun as an organizing principle in gaming. The argument becomes not that fun has never been the entirety of gaming (ask anybody how “fun” failing in Mario is, and yet failure is a major part of almost every videogame)  but that it’s JUST a shield shitty game designers use to do whatever they want to please an audience that wants, frankly, some pretty repellant bullshit. She holds up as the model for gaming’s future the auto-biographical games of people like Anna Anthropy and the explosion of personal text adventure games powered by the game writing engine Twine. She then dismisses as personal the arguments against these games as being personal and sexist. But here’s the thing: outside of a few of these games like dys4ia that are actually pretty fun, I’m not sure why people are playing these games.

And I say that as somebody that really likes Anna Anthropy’s work. Somebody that’s familiar with her work and similar artists in the genre and who’s even encouraged people in a public column I got paid money for to try out what she’s doing. The question I always have whenever I play one of these things as a game though is, short of somebody yelling at you that you HAVE to play this thing, why the hell would you want to play it? There’s often no gameplay to speak of and the narrative is so direct it can sometimes feel like you’re reading a choose your own adventure non-fiction column with like 2 branches in the path that both lead to the same ending.

On some level that isn’t a problem, the audience these creators are interested in seek out their stuff because of that focus on issues the rest of the gaming community ignores. And I’m not arguing that every game needs to be fun for white straight males like me because boy do I have enough games made to be fun for me to last a lifetime. What I’m arguing is that the game being fun for SOMEBODY is a vital part of making games.

Leigh Alexander’s referenced in a lot of articles, most prominently ones she’s written about the Metal Gear games which I don’t particularly like that I already talked about once, that she’s a big fan of distanciation in games. She likes it when a game lets you know you’re playing a game and makes that a psychologically or downright physically unpleasant experience in order to COMMUNICATE WITH YOU. And I like that too. She likes Brecht, I like Brecht. Brecht bros. But the problem I’ve always had with distanciation, hell, the problem BRECHT had with distanciation is it only implicates the people who want to be implicated because everybody else just goes “I don’t like this it doesn’t feel fun” and leaves. You can deride them as philistines all you want but they’re still gone and not listening to what you’re trying to communicate anymore.

I guess what I’m arguing, and man the longer I spend on this article the weirder I feel trying to tell people how to properly not work within the system as a white dude, but I guess I’m saying that if we want to abandon the traditional system of game design that’s fine. About time really. Fuck those dudes. But abandoning fun in the name of art seems like a really weird way to do it if you want anybody to stick around to see your art. It seems like you’d be better off just embracing the idea that what you’re making “aren’t games” and doing your own thing that doesn’t have to be judged by their rubric. I don’t want that to happen though because I think gaming is way better off with all of the people making those games sticking around . What I want more than a masterwork of distanciation is a game that implicates gamers the same way Cabin in the Woods uses the grammer of horror to implicate horror fans for their worst impulses. That should be super easy right? Good luck with that guys. I was going to try to tie this in with similar problems in comedy (how do you make a funny joke that critiques the way that the format of stand-up privileges white dudes talking about white dude stuff?) but…yeah this is enough words to force you guys to read.

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Other Ten Percent 6/17/13

Jun 17 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

I kind of think I should let the RSS roundup part of the blog die with Google Reader because part of me just feels like it’s a message from the universe. That message is, of course, “Google can’t monazite this approach and it’s taking attention away from Google+ and social sharing” but hey, at least the universe is being super specific.

My initial impulse was, as always, to replace it with some of the other stuff I’m doing in my free time and I have been writing comedy and some scripts lately. But there’s two problems with that approach. One is that I feel like OTP is about having a sense of the present moment in a way that I’d really miss if I just switched entirely over to that approach. The second is that you guys don’t really have time to read 10 pages of spec script stuff from me every few days and even in you did I kinda wouldn’t wish it on you. “Guys, look, in the future this TV script will be good enough for somebody to air it on television” doesn’t really jive with our mission statement here. I need readers for that stuff (e-mail me!) but I need to rethink what it looks like when I get them because OTP isn’t the outlet.

Part of me considered just swapping over to a totally Twitter focused version of the blog but that’s got its own problems. The nice thing about the RSS format is that it was relatively passive in a way that the constant monitoring of Twitter and Facebook feeds isn’t. I can get everything I need from Twitter but I need to constantly be checking it throughout the day to stay a part of the conversation in a way where just curating my RSS feed is something I really could pick up for an hour and then be done with. I can’t write a Twitter based OTP in a burst it has to be an underlying part of my headspace all day and I’m not sure I can really afford it that headspace anymore.

The thing that makes the whole task so difficult is that the problem Other Ten Percent is trying to solve has evolved. When I started sending out an e-mail every morning content overload was such a real problem nobody’d even managed to cash in with a book about how it would be the death of society yet. There really were too many news sources and filtering them was a specialized task.

Now everybody has some equivalent of an Other Ten Percent solution to the problem. It’s still impossible to read everything everybody’s writing but we seem to have passed over the existential dread period about that with admirable quickness. Instead we trust in the fact that we’ve all, collectively, read everything and we’re probably filtering it well enough to stay an informed populous.

It’s a lot easier for me because it means that the work of doing Other Ten Percent is now distributed across 150 people for everybody instead of me trying to do it myself but it makes the job feel a lot less satisfying. It’s like I’m just reading the answers from the back of the book and then writing something about drones over them.

It’s a different metaphor now. We were sitting around trying to read a 10,000 page newspaper every day and feeling overwhelmed by it but now we’re at a 10,000 person dinner party and we have no idea which of the half heard conversations we should be jumping in on.

So how do you reconcile Sturgeon’s Law (hey, remember when the title of this blog was about something?) with a model focused on conversing and not on reading. As I see it there’s two main paths forward I’m going to be testing out in the immediate future.

The first is to simply relay the most interesting conversations as if they were stories. We’ll call this the Hearst approach in reference to one of William Randolph Hearst’s best known and most effective dick moves.

During prohibition Hearst used to have the biggest and most raucous parties in California. Everybody would be there and everybody would be drunk. Except Hearst who’d just sit, and listen while stone-cold sober. Hearst managed to build a multi-million dollar empire by knowing all the best gossip and he knew it because everybody in Hollywood would just drunkenly tell him everything he needed to know. He was the calm, all knowing center of the party and you could feel free to pay him so he’d let you know what he knew.

This approach is a lot of work and, as established, a total dick move. But I don’t think it’s particularly surprising that I have a certain level of respect for the sheer Lex Luthor level mastermind-y-ness of it. Plus, in an age where everybody’s posting photos of every object they come across that looks like it has a face it’s not that hard to implement a significantly less evil version of it.

An Example:

I’m not sure if you guys have heard about Patton Oswalt’s huge rant on joke theft, heckling and rape jokes. Even if you have I’m not sure you’ve actually read it because it’s 6000 friggen words long and the relevant bit (Oswalt has realized rape culture is real and white dudes getting criticism for saying really offensive things about rape to get chuckles out of frat guys isn’t actually the Nazi Germany style censorship stand-ups present it as) come in about 200 words from the end of the piece. The rest of it’s just Oswalt talking about what it feels like when the audience doesn’t understand your art well enough to respect you for it.

Those long, largely boring paragraphs about Oswalt’s lived experience though are actually really interesting when you’re viewing them in context of trying to bridge two separate diametrically opposed conversations. On the one side you’ve got Lindy West explaining rape culture to comedians while being genuinely funny enough to single-handedly make Jezebel worth reading again. Oswalt never specifically mentions Lindy West in the post but it’s plain from his Twitter feed that he’s been reading her and struggling with what she, and other female comedians, have been saying. On the one hand you’ve got a bunch of (almost entirely white male) comedians who have taken it as gospel that the most important “right” of the standup is the ability to say whatever you want and that threatening that threatens all of comedy.  Whenever you say rape culture to people in the second group they freak the fuck out and start making Hitler comparisons fast enough to make your head-spin (or just threaten to rape the person that said it. Stay classy unfunny twenty-something white dude standups.). So the long, rambling lead-in Oswalt does before he gets to his conclusion can actually be seen as a sort of rigorous proof trying to dismantle the standup’s usual arguments about censorship and how hecklers are so evil you have the right to do anything you want to them.

Is it going to work? I mean…no. I think “Hey, Patton Oswalt says for you to shut the fuck up” is going to be way more effective at getting young stand-ups to actually think about what the hell they’re trying to say when they talk about rape than “let’s talk about the many distinct parallels between comedians attempting to forge some connection with an audience that makes a lot of unfortunate assumptions about them and women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse because of assumptions forced on them by men.” And if just explaining why bullshit arguments don’t actually address the issue got people to stop making bullshit arguments we’d have had this sexism thing licked a long time ago. Still, I kinda respect the completeness of the effort, the way it speaks to the privileged bullshit of mediocre stand-ups and gives them no real avenue of escape.

Maybe wait for Lindy West to do a tl:dr version if you’re not part of the comedy scene though. Oh wait she already did. Lindy West is awesome.

So yeah that’s what that would look like.

Then we’ve got a second approach. Don’t worry I don’t have an example of this one yet so we’re almost done. We’re going to call this second one the salon approach and it’s actually going to be a lot less work for me and a lot more work for you guys. This is the one where I see a conversation that should happen, find two people that can have it and then drag them here for your amusement. Feminist theory and stand-up gospel is a conversation that’s needed to have a conversation for a long time, in fact it’s been going on for a while already and tragically I don’t think Oswalt is going to have the last word. Point is I could have set up a similar conversation between people I actually know and done that here when I saw this conversation was sort of happening months ago instead of waiting for Patton Oswalt to be the flashpoint. I could do a similar thing with online privacy or the next generation of gaming consoles or a whole shit ton of things.

These discussions don’t always have to be fights either. I’d love to have my Dad and Ivan both discuss Joss Whedon’s new Much Ado from a textual and industry stand point and come to common ground on why they loved it on both levels. The point is that I’d be curating the conversation by actually curating a conversation between two people that might not normally talk to each other. I’m going to set one of those up too and see how it goes.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s entry including the 600 word digression about how somebody else wrote too many words. Bye!

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Other Ten Percent 6/14/13

Jun 14 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

You know, I don’t have any big sweeping declarations about anything to make and all of the projects I’ve been working on are either too large to be finished yet or too small for OTP so let’s just do a traditional link roundup where I talk about stuff. Once Google Reader breaks in a few weeks we may not have the ability to do these again anytime soon.
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Raging Heroes: kickstarting all-woman armies of RPG miniatures
So this kind of stuff is what it actually looks like when 3D printing changes the world. It isn’t going to feed starving children in Africa anytime soon or lead to a classless utopia but it’s going to make people’s reality subtly better in ways traditional manufacturing really wasn’t well equipped for before now.
via Boing Boing
June 09, 2013 at 02:01AM
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How to invent things: edit your mess
I can’t tell if this is the kind of advice that actually is true or that just feels fundamentally true and then turns out the be basically unfollowable in practice. Like there are a few steps in creating a huge mess and then maximizing for the mistakes that seem most interesting to you that border on “2.??? 3. Profit” territory but it also does seem like when you actually think of a good idea you usually stumble on it through fucking up somehow sooooooooooo…..
June 10, 2013 at 09:53AM
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Composite Aerial Photo Map of San Francisco in 1938
So my first thought about this is that I find it way more compelling than modern day Google Earth and the second thing is that I really want to figure out how to use this in this year’s Dance Party at the End of the World.
via Laughing Squid
June 10, 2013 at 04:33PM
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Game of Drones – video show about drone fighting
Well here’s a way to kill some time until GoT Season 4.
via Boing Boing
June 11, 2013 at 03:38PM
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Kanye West is a confident young man
So Kanye’s been getting a lot of shit for this interview and to be sure there are parts of this where he goes off the deep end (the whole Steve Jobs section is just bizarre) but there’s also a ton of stuff in here that has Kanye articulating stuff about his persona and his music that I really don’t think I’ve ever heard him or anybody else discuss this clearly.
June 12, 2013 at 06:51AM
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Here’s that Beastles album you’ve been waiting for!
I have not yet listened to this but the first two Beatles/Beastie Boy mashup albums by DJ BC were some of my favorite mashup albums ever.
via Boing Boing
June 13, 2013 at 08:00AM
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Hark, a Vagrant: Alexanders
I kind of want to start writing books marked to 8-13 year olds just so I can get my publisher to have Kate Beaton draw the cover.
via Hark, A Vagrant!
June 13, 2013 at 02:18PM
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Will TV’s Best Actress Get the Award For Best TV Actressing?
Orphan Black is so good I’m genuinely pissed a genre show has no chance of winning an Emmy for the first time since I graduated high school and figured out how the Award Show world worked.
via The Hairpin
June 03, 2013 at 08:45AM
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I somehow feel these guys are NOT going to make the idea of having a camera strapped to your head feel a lot cooler or safer to the general public.
via Featured Blog Posts – Fashioning Technology
June 04, 2013 at 03:13PM
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If This Catalog Could Talk: Anthropologie Girls
This might possibly be better than the J. Crew Crew video.
via The Hairpin
June 05, 2013 at 03:45AM
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Other Ten Percent 6/12/13

Jun 11 2013 Published by under Daily Posts

So let’s talk about Vidya games because really this week what else is there to talk about? I want a new Macbook Air and I actually kinda like iOS 7 but honestly I think not giving that much of a fuck is a pretty honest reaction. So instead let’s talk about E3 where…not giving that much of a fuck is also an honest reaction. Microsoft bombed pretty hard and so Sony won by default and everybody, including Nintendo that basically didn’t even show up to the party, seems to admit that by going after anybody but the hardcore gaming market Nintendo is just basically playing a different game now.

Is all of this boring you? It’s probably boring you. The short version is Microsoft made a horrible rape joke, committed more virtual murders during their press conference than the number of actual murders EVERYWHERE ON EARTH during than period five times over charged $100 more for their next console. Sony then announced a console and wasn’t as stupid.

They won.

I was going to make a big point about how microsoft’s big failure was not actually picking an audience and certainly their inability to decide between hunting casual gamers that just want to have some fun and gamer bros that really want to know if the next chainsaw rocket launcher in Gears of War is a chainsaw that constantly shoots rockets or a rocket launcher that constantly shoots chainsaws caused them some issues. Really though the more I thought about that the more I got bored.

Then I saw the trailer for the incredibly self-indulgent new Metal Gear game (just like the fact that I never liked Magic: the Gathering totally alienates me from card game/board game geeks the fact that I despise Metal Gear games basically brands me as an insane heretic when it comes to console games. It’s the video game equivalent of being that douche that thinks Shakespeare is overrated. Only this time he is. He totally is.) and thought about making a big thing about the difference between distanciation which Metal Gear constantly pushes and doesn’t interest me at all on its own and implicating your audience which Metal Gear’s “Tom Clancy novel on crack” plotting totally fails at and I like a lot better but then…

Wait you all fell asleep again. Wake up. We’re getting to links. See I was reading about Metal Gear for a while which lead me to Leah Alexander talking about why she loved those games which then got me reading the FFVII letters which, wait, still not a link you should care about if you aren’t a huge video game nerd. Or, at least you should wait and read it after I give it context because it did get me thinking about why console games don’t interest me the way they used to and why the games of my youth have such power over me,

It’s a thing that they touch on in the 20,000 word plus series over there but it took another article to articulate it for me. Games used to be magic. When I say this I’m not arguing they should be again because a lot fo the reasons they were had to do with me being young and stupid (though other things like a willingness to rely on my imagination and use representational art like they discuss in the FFVII letters I kinda miss) but that I used to not understand WHY things happened in games I only knew what I wanted to do myself. It’s the difference between solving a mystery because you figured out the butler was the only one with access to the poisoned grain that left the duchess stranded in the middle of the moor and solving the mystery because, duh, butler.

When I first played Final Fantasy VII I played it entirely in japanese on a modded playstation my parents were kind enough to buy me after months of begging because I couldn’t possibly wait the like 7 months it took for them to translate and release the game in America. I managed to beat the game using a really early tutorial i found online that explained how everything worked. This is both my greatest geek claim to fame and probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. It was really hazily written and I recall yelling at my parents (who, you’ll recall just bout me an INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE CONSOLE so I could play a video game I couldn’t read. I was a shit teenager.) because they kept trying to tell me I should equip the purple materia to catch Chocobos because the red one obviously just let me summon them. They were totally right.

My mom did accidentally erase my original Legend of Zelda save game from right before the final dungeon once because she was so determined to beat it herself and I’ll always have that to hold over her head.

Point is, to this day I’ve never played Final Fantasy VII in english and I have no idea what anybody said at any point yet I still have a weirdly thorough understanding of everything that happens in that game because it’s so representational. It’s basically the mono-myth acted out over and over again by lego figures against incredibly beautiful backdrops until you eventually end up with that iconic Final Fantasy theme and feel vaguely satisfied despite having no understanding of whatever narrative just took place. I think it’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to enjoying a Tarrence Malick movie.

Where was I going with this when I swore somebody would find it interesting? Oh right, that video games used to seem like magic. Part of why that’s gone is obviously just the internet and the fact that you can find spoilers for anything but I think another part of it, maybe a bigger part, is that games aren’t willing to just be batshit insane anymore. People make fun of how Mario is on drugs but really it just created a visual narrative out of whatever its programmers were able to actually make they thought might be fun. I’m not sure I can really say the lack of making shit up as you go along is something that’s actually “wrong” with games but it’s something I miss. I miss being able to lie about games and having people believe me because anything could happen.

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